My song has no melody, so I hope you like the words

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tea Party Primer

I am a proud Tea Party supporter, and have attended more than one protest, including the huge gathering on the Nation's Capitol on 9/12/09. This is a movement of ideas, but not a political party in the conventional sense. It is more a shorthand description for individuals and organizations with similar beliefs banding together. Those beliefs include the shared core values of personal and governmental fiscal responsibility, Constitutionally limited government, and a preference for free market economic policies.

When followed, those values result in greater individual freedom and less government control over individual citizens, attributes the founders of this nation considered necessary for our Republic to succeed.

There is no single "Tea Party”, no one voice that speaks for everyone. Several groups, both new and old, are working independently and in cooperation with one another to promote the shared values described above. This is confusing to some, because there is no hierarchy, but I believe this grassroots movement reflects exactly the kind of individual responsibility that our nation needs.

I'm sure there are many more, but the following are national groups I know about. PLEASE use the comments field to mention others I have missed, and provide contact information if possible. I would love to provide a resource for those who are just now becoming politically aware and are searching for information.

Some National Organizations [in alphabetical order]:

9.12 Project
This organization was started on 3/13/2009 by Glenn Beck, though he no longer actively leads it. The website promotes his “9 Principles and 12 Values” [good stuff] and acts as a clearinghouse for information as well as coordinating small groups that meet regularly around the country. Over one million Americans have joined since its inception.

Freedomworks was established 20 years ago to promote limited government and lower taxes. The million-plus members are in multiple chapters around the country. This group has an educational focus, and provides speakers for training seminars. They also were the primary force behind the 9/12/09 WDC protest [though logistics were largely coordinated by Tea Party Patriots]

National Tea Party Federation
From their website, “The NTPF is established to create a unified message and media response amongst key leadership and their affiliates. “ There are approximately 400-500,00 member organizations and individuals. This coalition strives to provide a clear, unified media message that promotes the core values of the movement.

Tea Party Express
This is the group that put on the cross-country bus tours and rallies leading up to 9/12/09. They have now moved into direct candidate support mode, declaring it is time to “put down your protest signs and pick up campaign signs.”
There has been quite a bit of controversy over the leadership here, because the co-founder, Mark Williams, had to resign due to outrageous racial slurs he made publicly. The other groups listed here have distanced themselves from TPE. The current TPE leadership has stated that the comments were “not representative of the TPE,” but questions still linger.

Tea Party Patriots
From their website, TPP is, “the only national organization dedicated solely to the recruitment, education, training and empowerment of individuals and groups that identify with the tea party movement,” and is a “completely grassroots, bottom-up organization, made up of over 2,500 chapters spanning every state in the nation.” There are now over 20 million members, and they do not endorse specific candidates.

A recent poll shows that 73% of Americans believe the government has too much power over citizens’ lives. If you agree, please become informed and take action in the days ahead. PLEASE learn about the candidates in your districts, and find ways to connect with others who share your convictions.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Part in the Chorus


I have no song, Lord
You gave me no melody
My ears are like tin
And my voice a throaty rasp
I cannot hear the angels
As they sing your praise
Or lift my voice to heaven
In a song sweet to your ear
Instead You gave me words
With a love for their use
And a life full of pain
So I could know your joy

When we are all gathered together on the other side, singing praises to God, I’ll try to stand apart from you so I don’t throw you off key. That is what my friends ask me to do now whenever we gather for that purpose, and I try to oblige. Sometimes, I just mouth the words and trust that God will understand. My high school music teacher was honest enough to say, “you really can’t sing, can you?” And compassionate enough to give me a passing grade anyway. Never one to give up easily, I thought that if I couldn’t sing I would find some other way to create music, but whenever I practiced my instrument, my dear dog howled and I didn’t want to cause him pain. My sense of rhythm isn’t any better. Remember the Steve Martin character who couldn’t keep a beat? He learned that from me.
It really bothers me when I read over and over in scripture that we are to sing praises to God, so I cling to the verse that just says to make a joyful noise. I know how to do that. For a long time I tried to figure out where I fit into the chorus of praise to God. When a song of worship would move me to tears, I would long for that gift. When I saw works of beauty created by others, I would wish to do the same. The superstar stories of faith always made me squirm because my own life seemed so unremarkable. I have spent most of my life in a struggle to just stay afloat. I have no successful career, no wealth, no fame, no outstanding talents or gifts. I’m just one more anonymous grain of sand on the shore. Like most people, my life here on earth will barely cause a ripple and then I’ll be gone.
So why does God care if I join the chorus? Because he knows that praising Him is what gives meaning to my existence. That was why he created me. Not for His selfish desire to have one more average person acknowledge His greatness, but because he knew it would bring me joy. When I can know and share even a small part of His glory, I am filled with a sense of purpose that far outlasts any human accomplishment.
Dandelions are a part of that chorus, too. God wanted to be sure there was an easy way for little boys to express love to their mothers, so He spread them far and wide. My five sons have all brought me those small tokens of affection, and their joy in giving has been as great as mine in receiving. Their small pudgy hands have crushed the stems in eagerness to deliver their precious gift, and their faces have reflected the joy of expressing love.
My talents may be no greater than a common weed, but it brings me joy to give them to my Heavenly Father. Maybe the only way I contribute to that chorus is by knowing that I survive by God’s grace alone. I won’t claim to boast about my weaknesses as Paul did, but at least I know that I have a place in His chorus, tin ears and all.

Local political musings 7/30/10...

I just had an informative and encouraging visit with Jay Galloway, the Republican running for Delaware State Rep in the 27th District. He has been out door to door meeting constituents and sharing his ideas since June, no easy task in this predominately liberal area. I was impressed by his candor and clear, specific description of the problems we face and workable solutions. Mr. Galloway, whether you agree with his politics or not, is exactly the kind of 'citizen - statesman' this nation needs: he has substantial experience in the real world, and looks on political office as a civic duty, NOT a personal power trip. He believes in term limits, and actually living under the laws that he would enact.

I also just learned that a friend is running for State Senate in Delaware's 9th District. Robert Johnston has been working with the Chamber of Commerce for some time, and is married to Karen Johnston, a name you probably recognize from homeschooling circles in Delaware. He is just getting his campaign started, and I will post more as I learn more. He did ask me for my 'Tea Party' contacts, so that should give you some idea of his views...

Another local candidate to check out is Andye Daley, running for New Castle County Council. She was motivated to get in the game to deal with our failing infrastructure and out of control spending.

These 3 people are just regular folk like you and me, but for various reasons they have decided to try and make a difference in our local government.
Wherever you live, please take time soon to learn more about the people running for office in your local area. Delaware's primary day is September 14, the general election is November 2. If you don't vote in the primary, your candidate may not be on the ticket in November.

This election matters more than most because redistricting will be done by these elected officials, based on the 2010 census. How fairly [or unfairly] those lines are drawn will heavily influence the outcome of elections for the next 10 years. We have all heard of 'gerrymandering' - the unscrupulous drawing of district lines to favor the party in power. Right now, Delaware has a Democratic majority in both state houses, you do the math...

For more info, check out these websites:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coloring Outside The Lines

My parents really did want to do right by me, though they weren’t always able to see past their own pain long enough to succeed. My early education was a case in point. They put me in a preschool that had a fine reputation for producing good little girls and boys, but they never looked inside the doors to know how that goal was accomplished. That little experiment resulted in the first of many therapy sessions in my life, mostly because I’m not very good with crayons.
We were given a picture to color one morning. I don’t remember what the picture was, probably trees or flowers or a cute bunny rabbit. In any case, when I tried to produce an acceptable work of art, I colored outside the lines. I don’t know if I just missed the lines a little bit, or actually got creative and colored all over the page, but it was a serious infraction of the rules.
The class had planned an outing that day to spend time in a nearby park. We all looked forward to walking in the fresh air and sunshine and escaping from the dreary classroom. I discovered that some rules are really important, and coloring inside the lines was one of them. I had forfeited the chance to go outside by my sloppiness. Consequences for our actions in life can be harsh, even when we don’t see them coming.
Since all the other students and teachers were leaving, my teacher needed to be sure I didn’t try to follow them. She chose what seemed to her a logical solution and locked me in a closet. I can still see the view from the tiny window set high in the wall. I climbed up on boxes to peer out and watch my classmates walk away over the hill. Once they were out of sight, I climbed down off the boxes and sat on the floor to wait out my sentence. By the time my mother arrived at the end of the day, everyone had returned and I had been released from my prison cell. I had paid my debt to society for being imperfect once again.
The weird part is that it never occurred to me that being locked in a closet might not have been an appropriate response to coloring outside the lines. Instead, I developed a deep seated fear of crayons and closets. Because I wasn’t very good at handling crayons, there was a great risk of making the same mistake again, and I didn’t think I could survive another day in that confined space. The only solution I could figure out was to never try. Fear prevented me from enjoying the simple pleasure of any form of art and was so debilitating that I failed every art class I ever took. Creative expression was too dangerous, the risk of error too high.
God has gently pointed out that pattern in other areas of my life. I tend to look for the rules or lines in every situation, and feel compelled to always do the “right” thing. I don’t dare trust my own instincts, but instead look for external standards of right and wrong. In situations where there are no clear guidelines, I’m a nervous wreck. This is no way to live. Jesus came to set me free from bondage, and He did. I only need to walk in faith through those prison doors. He wants me to feel the sweet fresh air and warmth of sun on my face, and doesn’t demand perfection from me to get there.
So often we live our lives in prisons of our own making, believing we cannot ever be free. Our hard and fast rules of acceptability keep us walking the same safe paths, judging anyone who walks in a different direction or at a different pace. We are so concerned with staying on the path we believe is our only choice that we never look up to see that the walls have been torn down. Others of us are so convinced of our own unworthiness that we never even test the door to find out that Jesus has already removed the locks that held us captive.

I’ve spent so long ashamed of my humanity
Guilty for my weakness when I thought I should be strong
Angry at those who hurt me and keeping the world away
Living by the rules, wearied by my pain
Like an unwelcome guest who tries not to impose
I worked so hard to learn the unwritten rules and code
Then set myself a futile goal to live within the lines

Sometimes our lives are sloppy, with marks all over the page where they don’t belong, but God’s love is not bound by our actions. He forgives us instead of condemning, He even accepts our pitiful crayon scribbles, knowing that someday when we join Him in heaven we will actually become His masterpiece. Our creator is not a harsh teacher who locks us in a closet every time we make a mistake. He is a loving Father who erases the sins of our past through the forgiveness given by grace at the cross. The most beautiful human art pales beside the incredible glory in one part of God’s creation. We can never produce anything to compare on our own. So Jesus fills us with His beauty through the Holy Spirit and invites us to enjoy the show.

It has to start somewhere

Glimpses of life
Jotted words on paper scraps
Reminders of minutia
Old lists to do
Calls to make
Bits of discourse
Remains of spiral notebooks…

Rambling thoughts need a place to land, so now they have a home.  It is election season now, so much of what you see here over the next 100 days will relate to my passion for the restoration of founding principles in our nation.  If that doesn't float your boat, I'll be posting poems and essays on life in general and specifically about my human condition.